Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Drugstore Mascara Smackdown: Maybelline Great Lash vs. Rimmel Magnifier


Maybelline Great Lash Mascara - Curved Brush, Very Black

Volume: 2.5 out of 5 - Thicker than natural, but not a lot of increase
Lengthening: 3 out of 5 - some length but not a significant difference
Clump Resist: 3.5 out of 5
- Sticky, but not clumpy
Kindness to Eyes: 4.5 out of 5 - did not irritate my eyes
Price: $4.49 for .43 oz
on$10.44 per oz)

For years I have read the reviews and heard how people swear by the legendary Great Lash mascara. It never seemed to work for me like it did for others, but I would try it again every so often. After trying some other drug store mascaras that were hideous, however, I realized it wasn't so bad after all. I had migrated over to the department store "good stuff" for years but after losing a tube I rediscovered Great Lash. Since it had been a while since I had used any drug store brand I immediately noticed that the major difference between department and drug store brands was the consistency of the mascara. Great Lash seemed much more watery than Lancome and Dior mascaras. However, it did not clump and went on pretty easily. The brush seemed to separate the lashes well and after going over my lashes several times with a back and forth motion, I was able to get some length out of it. After a long day's wear it didn't seem to smear and it did not cause my eyes to be irritated.

Does it live up to its claim? The site claims it "conditions as it thickens." I can't refute that. Since it didn't dry out my lashes I guess you could say it conditioned them. It also says that its "lash-doubling formula glides on smooth." Lash doubling? If that is indeed true than many other mascaras do more than double lashes. The mascara did glide on smoothly. Finally, it says that its "custom curled brush lifts and curls each lash." I guess the lashes were lifted somewhat but I did not see any more curl than the Rimmel (which did not have a curved brush).

Would I buy it again? Yes (if I only had a drug store as a resource and Rimmel wasn't available)

Rimmel Eye Magnifier - Extreme Black
Volume: 3.5 out of 5 - Noticeably thicker than normal
Lengthening:3.5 out of 5 - Noticeably more length
Clump Resist: 3 out of 5
- A tad bit clumpy (small clumps)
Kindness to Eyes: 4.5 out of 5 - Did not irritate my eyes
Price: $6.49 for .27 on$24.04 per oz - I was able to get it BOGO at a Walgreens store)


The first time I discovered Rimmel was when a friend from London was visiting and I noticed how great her lashes looked. I must say I was surprised when I found out she was wearing a Rimmel product. Not that Rimmel is bad, but I haven't heard a lot about the UK brand since it has made its way on US shores. I was very excited when Walgreens had the Eye Magnifier on sale for buy one get one free (so I also bought a lip gloss that was unfortunately underwhelming).

I thought I had bought the wrong product when I saw the applicator. The wand applicator itself was much more flimsy than most applicators. However, since the wand was lightweight it almost glided with my lashes and actually extended the lashes further than many other bulkier mascara applicators I had used in the past. My lashes had a lot of volume and length, though just a little bit clumpy.

Does it live up to its claim? It says its "unique plastic brush lifts lashes vertically up to 70%." I'm not positive about the 70%. I feel like my lashes were lifted quite a bit but I don't have the means to measure if they had been lifted that much. It also says, "eyes appear larger." I guess since my lashes did seem to extend quite a bit they theoretically looked wider. It also says that it is "suitable for sensitive eyes." I don't wear contacts nor do I have extremely sensitive eyes. However, my eyes do get irritated from time to time and that has not happened while wearing this mascara.

Would I buy it again? Yes

So tell me - which would you choose?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Weekend Beauty Blast

Here's a bunch of beauty stuff to satisfy your appetite for the next week!

Atlanta: Beauty Sample Sale

When: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 5-9 PM

Where: Georgian Ballroom at The Biltmore, 817 West Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA 30308

Who: PrettyCity® presents The Beauty Sample Sale™ in partnership with SHAPE MAGAZINE

The Scoop: Not a free event. Only VIP tickets are available for $25 (includes goodie bag). Stay tuned for info on their events in Orlando and LA in Feb. and March.

L'Occitane Shea Butter Softening Hand Mask for 50% Off

See the Budget Babe's Smackdown of e.l.f.'s mineral makeup vs. Bare Escentuals

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What Smackdowns Do You Want to See?

Are there any particular Beauty Smackdowns you would like for me to feature? Let me know? Post a comment or send me an email at Let the 2008 Smackdowns begin!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

AJ Crimson Makeup Seminar

Celebrity makeup artist AJ Crimson (also half of Kissable Couture) is holding a makeup seminar on Saturday in Manhattan. Check out registration information here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Foundation Smackdown: MAC Studio Fix vs. Prescriptives Flawless Skin


MAC Studio Fix Foundation
Color Quality: 3.5 out of 5 - very close to my skin color
Coverage: 4 out of 5 - full coverage
Length of Wear: 3.5 out of 5
- skin gets oily after a few hours. Also has tendency to settle into crevices of face.
Kindness to Skin: 3.5 out of 5
$25 for .52 oz ($48 per oz)
Verdict: WINNER

I have been wearing MAC Studio Fix foundation in C6 for almost 10 (EEK!) years. It's not that I am stuck in my ways and have a hard time changing. The truth is, I am a black woman who likes a full coverage foundation that does not look like stage makeup. And oh, by the way, my skin is sensitive! So until more companies develop quality makeup for women of color, I'm stuck.

So let's talk about the foundation. Studio Fix is a powder makeup that goes on with as much coverage as a cream foundation. It comes with a fantastic sponge that applies the color smoothly and evenly. Some people like to use a brush instead for lighter coverage. One caveat about the sponge is that you should change it every 1-2 months. I wear Studio Fix just about every day and it usually lasts me about six months. It looks lighter than your skin shade when it first is applied, but once it settles and mixes with your skin's natural oils, it darkens a bit (so don't be worried if it looks pasty when you first put it on). I am happy that the C6 color looks very close to my skin tone. The problem is, even though it is a powder, my T-zone always gets shiny when I use it. Oil blotters are essential! On another note, as long as I change the sponge regularly I seldom get breakouts as a result of the foundation.

Does it live up to its claim? The site claims it "is a powder and foundation in one that combines good coverage with ease of application." It also claims to maintain "a matte finish by absorbing oils on the skin, as well as Talc to provide a smoother, less reflective, matte finish" and "is long-wearing." I agree that it provides good coverage and is easy to apply. Though it has a matte texture once it is first applied, it does not absorb enough oils for it to maintain the matte finish. As far as long-wearing, it stays on for a long time but does not necessarily look good for a long time.

Would I buy it again? Yes

Prescriptives Flawless Skin
Color Quality: 4 out of 5 - a Prescriptives salesperson evaluated my skin color and matched it very closely.
Coverage: 3 out of 5 - medium coverage (worked best with Magic Powder)
Length of Wear: 4 out of 5

Kindness to Skin: 2.5 out of 5

Price: $39.50 for 1 oz.
Verdict: LOSER

I was very excited to try Prescriptives' Flawless Skin foundation especially after seeing how good it looked on my friend Karissa's skin. Her skin looked "flawless" and she told me she used a mix of the Flawless foundation and Magic Powder. I thought I was finally able to try something other than my old faithful Studio Fix. The same day I bought the foundation I also bought a new facial regimen from a different line. When my skin started becoming irritated and breaking out worse and in a different way than ever before, I just assumed it was the facial regimen. I stopped using the face creams and cleansers and continued to use the Flawless, though I still had irritation. I finally went to get a facial and I was told that whatever I used ended up irritating my skin to the point that it looked severely windburned. Needless to say once I stopped using the foundation, everything was back to normal.

The worst part of it was that though my skin was severely irritated, it looked amazing. The color looked great, and the Magic Powder topped it off very nicely. I wish I didn't have to let it go, but anyway you slice it, nice looking makeup over irritated, breakout infected skin just isn't very nice. Though it did not win the Beauty Smackdown, you should still try it out only if you don't have sensitive skin.

Does it live up to its claim? The site says it "works to protect against sun damage and external assaults while simultaneously diffusing imperfections" and "achieves a flawless finish while working 'undercover' to provide your skin with superior skincare protection." It also says that "daily use improves skin's ability to repair itself and guard against UVA and UVB damage" and the "lightweight, long-wearing foundation provides natural-looking medium to full coverage for all skin types." Since it has SPF 15 sunscreen in it, it must protect against sun damage. And as far as working "undercover," for me it worked undercover to damage my skin. I will agree that it is lightweight and fairly long-wearing. It also does maintain a natural looking coverage.

Would I buy it again? No. If only I didn't have sensitive skin...

Which would you choose?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Body Cream Smackdown: Bath & Body Works Lay it on Thick vs. Sephora Super Supreme Body Butter


Bath & Body Works Lay it on Thick Intense Moisture Shea Butter Cream (Tru Blue Spa line)
Moisture Level: 5 out of 5 - super moisturizing without being greasy
Scent: 4 out of 5 - A slight sweet, coconut scent
Price: $20 for 10 oz ($2 per oz)
Verdict: WINNER

Lay it on Thick is one of the best moisturizers that I have ever used. I just get so disappointed that it feels like I always use it up so quickly! The texture is thick and creamy without leaving your skin feeling oily. It is fantastic on skin that is very dry (especially during winter months), or on the places of your body that get the driest (like elbows, knees and feet). I found the moisture to last all day. Because it is so moisturizing, this may not be the best cream for people with oily skin. Also, though it also comes in a 6 oz. tube, the 10 oz is the best value.

Does it live up to its claim? It says, "Nothing makes skin feel better than incredibly rich shea butter. This deluxe cream takes it even further with protecting, conditioning vitamin E." It is a reasonable claim that I believe it lives up to.

Would I buy it again? Yes! I think I'm going to order some more right now!

Sephora Super Supreme Body Butter
Moisture Level: 3.5 out of 5 - goes on smooth and moisturizing but does not last very long
Scent: 3.5 out of 5 - Clean, fresh scent
Price: $25 for 13.52 oz ($1.85 per oz)
Verdict: LOSER

The packaging of Super Supreme Body Butter sold me! It lists a ton of moisturizing ingredients, calls itself "super nourishing" and it's named "super supreme," so it had to be good, right? Well, it was good. Not great, but good. It is a great value for the size. If you look at comparable body butters (especially in a Sephora store), it is a good deal. Also, the scent is clean (just slightly floral), and light enough for another fragrance to be layered over it. When I applied it it felt very thick but went on smoothly. Even though it seemed very thick and rich, it did not leave a greasy feel. I did notice it did not last extremely long. If you usually have normal skin but have dry skin in the winter, this is your wintertime solution. Also if you have slightly dry skin that is not sensitive, this maybe the body butter for you. One thing that I did not like about this was it clogged my pores. I have pretty sensitive skin ( more so on my face than body), and noticed some clogged pores on my back, arms and even legs - not cute. I don't know for sure if it would do the same to someone without sensitive skin.

Does it live up to its claim? My jar says, "The rich, yet non-oily texture literally melts into the skin for a one-of-a-kind, skin softening experience." and "it moisturizes, nourishes, protects and leaves the skin flawlessly smooth and soft to the touch" (slightly different from the website that says "it moisturizes, nourishes, protects, and leaves skin perfectly soft and smooth."). I agree that it is rich but not oily and also leaves skin soft to the touch. After my breakout experience, I think "flawlessly" is pushing it too far which may be why they took out that word from the site description.

Would I buy it again? Not for myself.

Which would you choose?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lip Gloss Smackdown: Kissable Couture vs. MAC 3D Lip Glass


Kissable Couture Lip Gloss

Shade: Forest
Color Quality: 3.5/5 - nice shade, best layered with another lip color
Endurance (lasting power): 2/5 - does not last very long
Price: $22 for .16 oz - not a great value (you're basically paying a premium for the packaging)
Verdict: LOSER

Kissable Couture, launched by Forest Whitaker's wife, Keisha Nash-Whitaker, and celebrity makeup artist, AJ Crimson, has been receiving a lot of press lately. I have been intrigued by this line ever since my girl, Bernie, featured it on COCOACHiC - so much so that I bought some and wrote an article about it. Since then Keisha has even been featured on Oprah. I love beauty-preneurs!

So here's the scoop: My bottle of Kissable Couture came in an ultra chic black gift bag with ribboned handles and an elegant box. The packaging was very well done. I really liked the look of the intense crimson color in the bottle, but was surprised when it went on extremely sheer. The applicator's felt tip along with the gloss' thin consistency made it go on very lightly. I had to dip the applicator in a few times for it to go on with enough color that I was comfortable with. I liked it best when I applied it over a lipstick. But, its thin consistency also prevented it from lasting long. I felt like it was gone after 30 minutes. It does last longer on lipstick (or maybe it was just the lipstick that lasted longer). Also, after a few weeks there seemed to be an odor (that happens with a lot of drug store brands too).

Does it live up to its claim? The website says it "offers the ultimate high gloss factor that is standalone satisfying" and keeps you "coming back for a single sheer application or double coat of sexy sheen & divine fluidity." It also says it "won't weigh down your lips, rather provide an endearing feeling of everlasting love." Someone's PR person has a way with words, huh? I will agree that it doesn't weigh down your lips. However, I think "ultimate high gloss factor" is exaggerated and I have yet to feel the "endearing feeling of everlasting love."

Would I buy it again? Yes. Though I would not buy it again for me (too expensive and doesn't last long enough), but I like it as a gift idea for my fashionista friends.

MAC 3D Lipglass
Shade: In 3D
Color Quality: 3.5/5 - glossy, clean look with a hint of color
Endurance (lasting power): 3/5
Price: $14 for .17 oz
Verdict: WINNER

I am a fan of MAC lipglasses and was excited to see MAC launching the 3D Lipglass, a more sheer, less sticky version of their original lipglasses. The applicator and consistency reminded me of MAC's lip lustreglass. I think the color is very on-trend since women are wearing less-pigmented lip glosses. Though the color is sheer, there was a level of complexity to it (a peachy, pink color with tiny shimmers that didn't make my lips sparkle, but rather shine) so it didn't feel like I was putting on something I could find in a drug store. Also, I liked that despite its sheerness, it lasted a pretty long time. Usually about an hour if I wasn't eating or drinking a lot. Great for a fresh, feminine look.

Does it live up to its claim?
The website indicates it "fuses a high gloss wet-look finish with balm-style emolliency and conditioning" and "delivers 3D-style dimension to the lips through an innovative combo-blend of extreme pearl and multi-reflective shine." It also says it is "non-sticky, smooth to apply" and its "finish lasts for hours." I agree that it does feel conditioning to the lips and has "multi-reflective shine" (you can see fine shimmering in the bottle but it is not glittery). I also agree that it is "non-sticky" and "smooth to apply." However, saying that it "lasts for hours" is a stretch - it may last for hours if you didn't move your mouth for hours.

Would I buy it again? Yes. At least as long as this look is on-trend.
Which would you choose?